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Post scriptum - Sonata for violin and piano

Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937)

Nurit Stark (photo credit: Uwe Neumann)

Nurit Stark (photo credit: Uwe Neumann)

Composer
Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937)
Composition Year
1991
Work Movements
1. Largo-Allegro-Allegretto
2. Andantino
3. Allegro vivace
Artists
Cédric Pescia [piano], Nurit Stark [violin]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

Valentin Silvestrov was born in Kiev in September 1937. He, Sofia Gubaidulina and Giya Kancheli are the most important living composers from the old Soviet republics, but his music is scarcely known in the West. Like Arvo Pärt, his early avant-garde style underwent a radical change and he developed a new language exemplified in his extraordinary song cycle Silent Songs. At this time of his life in the seventies, he had been banned from the association of Russian composers for protesting at the stifling cultural bureaucracy. Like Schnittke and Gubaidulina, it was made almost impossible for him to earn a living as a composer and he was effectively isolated and surrounded by a ring of silence - thus the Silent Songs. Despite the horror of events in his homeland, Chernobyl being just one, Silvestrov remained in Kiev.

In his later music Silvestrov targets his listeners' memory. The world is dimly discernible behind musico-physical forms, behind intonations and genres. Composer and listeners need the unique, indestructible moments that have been awaited for an eternity and for the sake of which one can fall in love with a new work, just as one could at the time of Mozart, Schubert and Chopin; moments, in short, whose absence betokens the end of the work's existence. Once these moments have been captured by the mind's ear, I try to transmit them, like rays of light, into the relative darkness of the work's musical structure (a structure that is still unclear to me myself), irrespective of the manner in which I am currently working.

Post scriptum was written in 1990-1 in celebration of the Mozart bicentenary. Silvestrov describes it as a postscript to Mozart and, more generally, to Classicism. The text is already written, we supplement it with our own remarks, ideas and questions, with our bewilderment, astonishment and regret. The work opens in silence - Using a flexible up-bow stroke, play a soundless forte so that real music emerges from this imaginary music. The real music opens with an imaginary miniature Mozartean sonata subject that is, if you like, our memory of perfection, heard somewhere and now gradually fading. We hear a ghost of a classical past, part memory, part imaginary, but the outlines of traditional forms are gradually lost from sight. Silvestrov's beloved songlike shapes open the second movement, which appears without a break, but when we reach the finale, even this fades away. The music dematerialises, the thematic ideas stagnate, trembling like a pulse that has finally stopped beating. Instead of a classical sonata, what we see before us is its beautiful ruins. The underlying tragedy lies in its bizarre contrast with the bright-toned, wholly undramatic nature of the composition, a tonal quality maintained to the very end of the piece. 

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Post scriptum - Sonata for violin and piano

Composer: Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937)
Performance date: Tuesday 1st July 2014
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937)
Work Title Post scriptum - Sonata for violin and piano
Composition Year 1991
Work Movements 1. Largo-Allegro-Allegretto
2. Andantino
3. Allegro vivace
Artist(s) Cédric Pescia [piano], Nurit Stark [violin]
Performance Date Tuesday 1st July 2014
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Main Evening Concert
Duration 00:16:02
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTE
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation vn, pf
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

Valentin Silvestrov was born in Kiev in September 1937. He, Sofia Gubaidulina and Giya Kancheli are the most important living composers from the old Soviet republics, but his music is scarcely known in the West. Like Arvo Pärt, his early avant-garde style underwent a radical change and he developed a new language exemplified in his extraordinary song cycle Silent Songs. At this time of his life in the seventies, he had been banned from the association of Russian composers for protesting at the stifling cultural bureaucracy. Like Schnittke and Gubaidulina, it was made almost impossible for him to earn a living as a composer and he was effectively isolated and surrounded by a ring of silence - thus the Silent Songs. Despite the horror of events in his homeland, Chernobyl being just one, Silvestrov remained in Kiev.

In his later music Silvestrov targets his listeners' memory. The world is dimly discernible behind musico-physical forms, behind intonations and genres. Composer and listeners need the unique, indestructible moments that have been awaited for an eternity and for the sake of which one can fall in love with a new work, just as one could at the time of Mozart, Schubert and Chopin; moments, in short, whose absence betokens the end of the work's existence. Once these moments have been captured by the mind's ear, I try to transmit them, like rays of light, into the relative darkness of the work's musical structure (a structure that is still unclear to me myself), irrespective of the manner in which I am currently working.

Post scriptum was written in 1990-1 in celebration of the Mozart bicentenary. Silvestrov describes it as a postscript to Mozart and, more generally, to Classicism. The text is already written, we supplement it with our own remarks, ideas and questions, with our bewilderment, astonishment and regret. The work opens in silence - Using a flexible up-bow stroke, play a soundless forte so that real music emerges from this imaginary music. The real music opens with an imaginary miniature Mozartean sonata subject that is, if you like, our memory of perfection, heard somewhere and now gradually fading. We hear a ghost of a classical past, part memory, part imaginary, but the outlines of traditional forms are gradually lost from sight. Silvestrov's beloved songlike shapes open the second movement, which appears without a break, but when we reach the finale, even this fades away. The music dematerialises, the thematic ideas stagnate, trembling like a pulse that has finally stopped beating. Instead of a classical sonata, what we see before us is its beautiful ruins. The underlying tragedy lies in its bizarre contrast with the bright-toned, wholly undramatic nature of the composition, a tonal quality maintained to the very end of the piece.